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Calligrapher | Tong Yang-tze

 

  • Chinese Name: 董陽孜
  • Place of Birth: Shanghai (Republic of China)
  • Date of Birth: Oct. 6, 1942
  • Did You Know That ... ?
  • She spent her childhood practicing the script of imperial China's two most famous calligraphers — the Sage of Calligraphy, Wang Hsi-chih (王羲之), and his son, Wang Hsien-chih (王獻之). 

 

Tong Yang-tze is the true embodiment of her own words, “there is no boundary in art,” as she combines the thousand-year-old Chinese calligraphy with modern media. Highly praised for her transcendental achievements, Tong is one of the befitting winners of the 31st National Cultural Award.

When one sees Tong’s calligraphy, the grandeur of her art pieces and a Chinese name that could be easily mistaken for a man’s, one would be surprised to find out she is in fact a fine lady who always smiles with an aura of vivacity. This lively spirit is seen throughout her efforts in bringing this traditional art into people's daily lives.

Tong’s calligraphy pieces are not just beautiful Chinese characters – they showcase an aesthetic touch of modern design. Her breakthroughs can be attributed to her training in Western oil painting and her experience as an art designer in New York. Her solid background in calligraphy writing is also impeccable, for she started practicing at the age of 8 by writing three hundred characters every morning.

Tong’s unconventional style has received high praise from the art coterie of museum directors, architects, and art critics. One former director of the National Palace Museum described Tong’s style to be “full of meaning,” and that with each of her brush strokes, she “not only brings life to the words themselves, she reveals her compassion for modern society.”

For the past forty years, Tong’s calligraphic art have traveled around the world. Moreover, she is the creator of the logo of the world-renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. The theatre’s founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) once said, “wherever we go, people would ask, ‘who wrote those characters?’ Well, it is by Master Tong, who was then only thirty-one years old.”

For Tong, however, her remaining wish is for the younger generations and users of simplified Chinese characters to take up calligraphy, so that the ancient art can be preserved and passed onto the grand eras of art that are yet to come. 

 

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